Home to Home Series
While we are sheltering-in-place, we invite you to enjoy featured performances from the RSO, as well as exclusive videos from our own RSO musicians.
We are anxious to be on the stage again, but until then please enjoy.
RSO Featured Archives
Carter Pann ⋅ Slalom
This piece was first performed by the RSO on March 7th, 2015 on the Civic Hall Stage. Directed by Guy Bordo
Slalom ⋅ Carter Pann
Born in La Grange, Illinois, in 1972
Permiere: Haddenfield, New Jersey, March, 2000
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon; 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba; timpani, piano, celesta, harp, percussion; strings
Duration: 10 minutes
American composer Carter Pann was born in La Grange, Illinois in 1972. He studied piano performance and composition at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York, and at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts, studying with such diverse teachers as William Albright, William Bolcom, Joseph Schwantner, and Bright Sheng. In his early 40s, Pann has had his works performed in this country and in Europe, notably by the London Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony, as well as many university, college, and youth orchestras, for which he has developed an affinity. He currently holds a teaching position at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Pann describes his music as a “blend of crafty, popular-sounding idioms, subtle and unabashed humor, and haunted melodic writing.” His humor comes through in the titles for some of his works, notably a commission from clarinetist Richard Stoltzman called “Rags to Richard.” He writes in his own program notes for Slalom that it “is a taste of the thrill of downhill skiing. The work is performed at a severe tempo throughout, showcasing the orchestra’s volatility and endurance. The idea . . . came directly out of a wonderful discovery I made several years ago at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when I embarked on the mountain-base gondola with a cassette player and headphones. At the time I was treating myself to large doses of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. The exhilaration of barreling down the Rockies with such music pumping into my ears was overwhelming. After a few years of skiing with some of the greatest repertoire it occurred to me that I could customize the experience. The work is presented as a collection of scenes and events one might come by on the slopes. The score is peppered with phrase-headings for the different sections such as “First Run,” “Open Meadow, Champagne Powder,” “Straight Down, TUCK,” and “On One Ski, Gyrating,” among others. Pann goes on to conclude that “SLALOM lasts ten minutes . . . precisely the amount of time I need to get from Storm Peak . . . to the mountain base, skiing full throttle.” Some ride!
Notes written by Dr. Robert M. Johnstone
Rimsky Korsakov • Capriccio Espagnol
The RSO performed this piece at Seton on March 3rd, 2018.
Directed by Guy Bordo
Capriccio Espagnole • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Born in Tikhvin, Russia, in 1844
Premiere: St. Petersburg, October 31, 1887
Died in Liubensk, Russia, in 1908
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba; timpani, harp, percussion; strings
Duration: 16 minutes
A disciple of the early Russian nationalists Glinka and Balakirev, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was both a fine composer and a selfless teacher. He inspired a younger generation that included both traditionalists (Rachmaninoff and Glazunov) and modernists (Stravinsky and Prokofiev). The critic Carl Van Vechten has written, “The folk song, the Orient, and the sea were the three great influences which pursued Rimsky-Korsakov throughout his career, and he never got very far away from any of them.” Trained as a naval officer, he traveled widely and his music reflects the exotic, the fanciful, and the picturesque.
This is certainly the case with Capriccio Espagnole. Its composition marked a revival of Rimsky’s musical creativity after several years of almost pietistic devotion to ordering, editing, completing, and in some cases re-composing the last works of his two great patrons, Mussorgsky and Borodin. After finishing the latter’s great opera, Prince Igor, Rimsky gave final shape to his own Capriccio in early 1887, conducting the premiere that autumn in St. Petersburg.
The Italian word “capriccio,” literally means “a head with hair standing on end.” In its English form, “caprice,” it refers to behavior that is sudden, impulsive, and whimsical. In music, then, a “capriccio” is an irrepressible piece that is free in form, often rhythmically brisk and bold in execution. Capriccio Espagnole was certainly written that way—in Rimsky’s words, designed to “glitter with dazzling orchestral color.” This patchwork of “striking ideas and bright effects,” he continued somewhat immodestly, “the change of timbres, the felicitous choice of melodic designs…exactly suiting each kind of instrument, brief virtuosic cadenzas for solo instruments, the rhythm of the percussion instruments, etc., constitute here the very essence of the composition and not its garb or orchestration.”
His original intent had been to write a rhapsody for violin and orchestra on Spanish themes, but he decided instead to use the orchestra itself as his virtuoso “instrument.” He reported that the players loved the piece in rehearsal, applauding at the end of each section. He not only dedicated the piece to the St. Petersburg players, but listed all 67 musicians as “featured soloists” on the program page at the premiere. The opening night audience echoed the performers’ delight, demanding it be repeated on the spot.
The Capriccio is in five sections played without pause: I. “Alborada,” is a Spanish morning serenade that opens flamboyantly and then subsides into ethereal quiet; II. is a set of “Variations” on the opening theme, led by the French horn, each of the five variations embodying a different orchestral color; III. “Alborada,” is a repetition of the first section with changes in key and orchestration; IV, is labeled “Scene and Gypsy Song,” and V. “Fandango of the Asturias,” is a dance of Andalusia, appropriately accompanied by guitar and castanets. The piece ends with a final recall of the “Alborada” theme.
Thomas Elefant conducted Capriccio Espagnole in 1993 and Guy Bordo has programmed it twice before, in 1999 and 2008.
Notes written by Robert M. Johnstone
From Our Home to Yours
Alistair Watson and Beth Uhimchuk, Violin
Please join Alistair and Beth for this beautiful home performance.
David Roode, Principal Trombone
David Roode, our principal trombone player, is joined by his wife, Mika Komuro on piano. Please enjoy this lovely duet, which is accompanied by a great tour of the musicians’ home and garden.